P1.3 million for refugee housing facelift

Portia Mlilo

Botswana government has spent P1.3 million to improving housing at the Dukwi refugee camp and to refurbish Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants.

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This was said by the minister of Justice Machana Shamukuni this week when addressing the media on his recent return from Switzerland where he attended the 73rd session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme (EXCOM).

Shamukuni said that as part of their efforts to ensure care and protection of those arriving in Botswana to seek asylum, the government has released funds for a facelift of the two refugee centres.

According to Shamukuni P737, 000 was used to refurbish 100 houses and erect the fence at Dukwi refugee camp while P1.2 million was used to refurbish ablutions, kitchen, storeroom and construction of 20 units for illegal immigrants in a project that is almost complete.

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“At the session, I was accorded an opportunity to talk about refugee management in our country and I thanked United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-UNHCR for re-considering closing their shop in Botswana after further engagements. One of our major challenges is the onward movement of asylum seekers who have been granted international protection in other countries but they still want to come here. We have rejected 498 from Democratic Republic of Congo and are still assessing 155. We do not have enough resources to accommodate them all,” said Shamukuni

He noted that Zimbabwean refugees have opted for repatriation except 24 who have been integrated in Botswana.

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Currently there are 1019 refugees in Dukwi and government has received 688 applications of asylum seekers from DRC, Burundi and Rwanda.

Concerning the welfare of the refugees, the minister highlighted that the introduction of cash based interventions was discussed at the EXCOM session and a suggestion was made that instead of being given hampers, they be given money to buy what they need.

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To that end, the Minister said they have requested UNHCR to provide funds to build a commercial centre at the refugee camp.

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